The Milwaukee Brewers, winners of 21 of their last 24, defeated the New York Mets on Saturday to run their record to 75-52. The victory also boosted Milwaukee's NL Central lead to eight and a half games over the St. Louis Cardinals.
To the casual baseball fan, this may seem like any other day at the office. That, however, couldn't be further from the honest truth.
In the club's 42 years of existence, the Brewers have never held such a lead in any season—including their hallowed 1982 World Series appearance where they came within one victory of winning it all.
Under the direction of first-year manager Ron Roenicke, these Brewers have essentially taken control of their destiny in the NL Central race, which had originally looked to be thrilling three-team chase just three weeks ago.
Is this Milwaukee's year to finally get over the hump and into the World Series picture? The statistics reveal everything there is to know:
- Since the All-Star break, the Brewers' starting rotation ranks first in MLB in ERA (2.93) and WHIP (1.11) after ranking 26th in ERA in 2010 (4.58)
- Milwaukee's bullpen ranks third in MLB in HLD (22) since the break, and ranks first in OPS (.614)
Last season, untimely pitching cost the Brewers a shot at the postseason, finishing third overall in the NL Central with a 77-85 mark. In 2011, you could argue pitching has been Milwaukee's best attribute.
GM Doug Melvin once more worked his magic with trading for Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum to improve a starting rotation. It took letting go three of Milwaukee's top minor league prospects to complete, but with the way things have been going of late, the moves seem ingenious.
Greinke (12-4, 3.92 ERA, 151 SO) has yet to lose a home decision in 2011, going 9-0 with a 3.15 ERA at Miller Park. Marcum, adversely, has been a gem away from Milwaukee—going 6-2 with a 2.47 ERA on the road.
Offensively, the Brewers are the juggernaut they've always been. Between Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder—two serious candidates to win the NL MVP award, according to ESPN's Jayson Stark—the two have managed a combined 176 RBI, 52 HR and maintain the two highest OPS marks of any two teammates in MLB.
The Brewers have seemingly been firing on all cylinders for the past two weeks. With a favorable schedule ahead, an NL Central pennant seems more and more likely with each victory.